USS Truxtun (DD-14)

The USS Truxtun (DD-14) was the first of the Truxtun-class destroyers in the U.S. Navy. Named in honor of Commodore Thomas Truxtun, she was the second ship to bear this name.

Construction

In November 1899, Truxtun was laid down by the Maryland Steel Company at Sparrows Point, Maryland. She was launched in August 1901, and commissioned in September 1902, with Lieutenant Archibald H. Davis in command.

Naval History

Prior to World War I, in 1903, Truxtun was assigned to the 2nd Torpedo Flotilla and participated in maneuvers off Frenchman Bay, Maine, the Presidential Review at Oyster Bay, New York, and an Army-Navy exercise off Portland, Maine. In September, her flotilla became a unit of the Coast Squadron, North Atlantic Fleet, and Truxtun participated in target practice off Massachusetts before sailing to Norfolk, VA, for repairs.

Truxtun operated along the Atlantic coast and in the Caribbean until 1907, when she, and five other destroyers, met up with the “Great White Fleet” at Hampton Roads, Virginia, shortly before the battleships embarked on their round-the-world voyage. Truxtun escorted the fleet as far as the west coast at which time she and the other destroyers were reassigned to the Pacific Torpedo Fleet. Following repairs at Mare Island Navy Yard, California, and a training voyage to Hawaii and Samoa, Truxtun operated out of San Diego, California, and worked along the west coast visiting ports in Seattle, Sitka, Seward, Skagway, and Juneau. Over the next decade, Truxtun alternated between semi-inactivity and sporadic cruises to Mexico and patrols along the west coast.

When the United States entered World War I on April 6, 1917, Truxtun was dispatched to Puerto Colombia, Colombia where she watched the German ship SS Prinz August Wilhelm. In mid-April, Truxtun returned to Colón, Panama. In July she transited the Panama Canal with three other destroyers and arrived at Hampton Roads.

In August, Truxtun departed Philadelphia for the Azores where she conducted escort duty. In December she departed the Azores and arrived at Brest, France, where she resumed escort duty and patrolled against German submarines for the remainder of the war.

Truxtun sailed to Philadelphia where she was decommissioned in July 1919. She was struck from the Naval Vessel Register in September and sold to Joseph G. Hitner of Philadelphia in January 1920, for conversion to mercantile service.

Asbestos Risk on the USS Truxtun (DD-14)

As asbestos was found in a wide range of products, the toxic fibers could be found throughout the USS Truxtun. Asbestos was found in larger quantities in several specific sections of the ship, however, such as those that contained heavy equipment that required fireproof insulation.

Whether they were assigned to the boiler rooms and engineering sections or parts of Truxtun that didn't use heavy machinery, crewmen were most likely exposed to asbestos. The ship’s paint contained asbestos fibers, as well as pumps and valves that used asbestos packing. In addition, most of the gaskets in machines on-board Truxtun were made of asbestos. High levels of asbestos insulation could also be found in Navy dockyards and crewmen and dock workers were exposed there as well. When breathed in, asbestos dust becomes stuck in the lungs and may eventually cause mesothelioma.


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